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Alberta

Province pumps healthcare system – $100M boost for surgical suites, equipment, rural hospitals

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LIVE: Funding more surgeries in Alberta

LIVE: Announcing $100 million to help perform 17,000 more surgeries, part of our plan to have 80,000 more surgeries performed in Alberta over the next 3 years.

Posted by Jason Kenney on Wednesday, 4 March 2020

From the Province of Alberta

A $100-million government investment will help hospitals across the province upgrade their operating rooms to provide thousands more surgeries to Albertans.

Large-scale renovations and some new operating rooms in Edmonton, Calgary, Grande Prairie and Lethbridge will allow those hospitals to focus on providing more complex surgeries, leaving rural sites and chartered surgical facilities to provide additional lower risk surgeries.

“Albertans deserve a world-class health system that delivers the right care, in the right setting, at the right time. This funding from Budget 2020 will drive down wait times with necessary and overdue upgrades to hospital operating rooms and equipment across the province. Ultimately, we will make sure our health-care system has the capacity and the staff to deliver the best access to surgery in Canada.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“This is great news for Albertans who need surgeries and want more access to quality health care in their home communities. This $100 million for capital projects will have a cascading effect, improving access to surgeries in big city hospitals, but also in rural communities across the province, so people can get care closer to home. It’s just the start of our government’s commitment to ensure the success of the Alberta Surgical Initiative. We are working exceptionally hard to ensure we build the best health system possible in this wonderful province.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

This capital funding is part of the government’s $500-million commitment in Budget 2020 to drive down wait times and provide all medically necessary surgeries within clinically appropriate times. Savings found through the AHS Reviewwill support this initiative.

The $100 million in capital funding will be spent on surgical infrastructure and equipment, including:

  • Upgrades to 12 operating rooms at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre. Low-risk surgeries will be moved out of the Foothills hospital and offered in Canmore, High River and independent surgical facilities in Calgary, relieving pressures on city hospitals with long wait lists.
  • A fit-out of an operating room in Grande Prairie and converting space in the Edson Health Centre into a second operating room.
  • Renovations at the Rocky Mountain House Health Centre so it can perform more endoscopy procedures and create more space in the Red Deer hospital to focus on more complex surgeries. Low-risk surgeries will also be moved out of the Red Deer Hospital to be offered in Innisfail, Stettler, Ponoka and Olds.
  • Renovations to operating departments at the Royal Alexandra Hospital and the University of Alberta Hospital, including the addition of one new operating room. Lower risk procedures will be moved to the Fort Saskatchewan Health Centre, the Grey Nuns Community Hospital and the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert.
  • Renovations at the Medicine Hat Regional Hospital.
  • Combining two smaller operating rooms into one larger space for more complex surgeries at Lethbridge’s Chinook Regional Hospital.

This capital investment will help AHS add over 17,000 surgeries this fiscal year to meet the four-year target that was set. Once the renovations are complete and less complex surgeries are being performed in chartered surgical facilities, up to 30,000 additional surgeries will be available to Albertans by 2023.

Alberta

After prior rejections, Alberta announces sandhill crane hunt for this fall

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EDMONTON — Alberta has announced there will be a sandhill crane hunting season this fall — a hunt that’s been opposed by an environmental group and was previously rejected by the provincial government three times.

The province said in a news release on Sunday that the season launches on September 1 in more than 50 wildlife management units in southern and east-central Alberta.

Environment Minister Jason Nixon says in the release that it “will support the province’s wildlife management goals and boost local economies.”

Alberta Conservation Association president Todd Zimmerling says in the same release that the birds make “excellent table fare” and that they’ve been hunted for many years across the rest of their range.

But Nissa Pettersen of the Alberta Wilderness Association said earlier this year, when the minister told a magazine he’d asked his department consider a hunt, that despite their healthy numbers, the birds reproduce slowly and are rapidly losing the wetlands where they live.

Alberta decided against sandhill crane hunts in 2009, 2013 and 2014.

“Alberta hunters care deeply about the province’s environment, species and wild places, and providing another opportunity to engage in a pursuit that supports conservation as well as economic activity is a win-win,” Nixon said in the release.

The province said sandhill crane hunting seasons have existed in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba for more than 50 years, with the sandhill crane population remaining healthy.

It said the number of sandhill cranes in the Alberta has increased steadily in recent years, adding that the hunt is supported by Alberta hunting stakeholders, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Central Flyway Council.

There are more than 600,000 sandhill cranes across North America.

But Pettersen said in April that because the cranes depend on wetlands that are disappearing, and also have a low birth rate, that they might not bounce back from a year of hunting. 

The Alberta Wilderness Association also said that a hunt would threaten the endangered whooping crane, which uses some of the same migration routes and could be mistaken for either bird.

The Canadian Wildlife Service proposed in December that the province open a fall sandhill season, saying it would provide a new hunting opportunity in Alberta and provide a mechanism to deal with crop depredation issues caused by cranes.

Pettersen discounted concerns about the birds eating crops in the field, noting that when that argument was made during the last debate over hunting, the total of actual complaints against the birds was five.

The province says hunters will need a provincial game bird licence and a federal migratory bird licence to hunt sandhill cranes. It says the Alberta hunt is expected to add only two per cent to the number of sandhill cranes harvested across North America.

The provincial release says fishing, hunting, trapping, and sport-shooting activities contributed $1.8 billion to Alberta’s GDP in 2018, supporting 11,700 jobs.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Alberta First Nation monitors hundreds for COVID-19 as it announces curfew

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SIKSIKA NATION, Alta. — A First Nation in southern Alberta has implemented a curfew as its health workers monitor more than 200 people for signs they may have developed COVID-19.

Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot said in video messages posted on Facebook that as of Thursday there were 21 known COVID-19 positive cases with links to the community west of Calgary, and that five separate and unrelated case clusters had been uncovered in the previous 12 days.

Crowfoot said that as of Wednesday, 258 Siksika Nation members were under “active investigation and daily followup” by the community’s health services team — a number he said had quadrupled in only three days.

On Friday, councillors approved a temporary curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, with exceptions that Crowfoot said can be made on an as-needed basis for work or other reasons.

Crowfoot encouraged Siksika Nation members to co-operate with health officials if they call, and to avoid non-essential travel to nearby cities. 

He said the risk of community transmission is high and that each new case cluster makes it even harder to contact trace and isolate people fast enough.

“We realize you have freedom of choice but we don’t have freedom of consequence. If we choose not to follow these guidelines, the consequence may be that we contract the virus and spread the virus further through our community,” Crowfoot warned in a video message posted Thursday.

In a message posted Friday, Crowfoot said his community had met meeting with federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Alberta Indigenous Affairs Minister Rick Wilson to address shortfalls in resources for dealing with the pandemic.

Crowfoot said the community’s annual Sun Dance ceremony was continuing, but that each participant was being tested prior to entering and that health workers were screening people as they came and went.

“It is understandable that people may feel anxious regarding this current situation, but if we continue to stay vigilant to the public health measures and do our best to limit travel and to avoid gatherings we have a chance to slow down the spread on our nation and also give our health team a chance to do their job,” Crowfoot said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

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july, 2020

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